Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Openness to data is part of their long-term preservation

Adrian Burton, Avoiding a digital dark age, Science Alert, April 5, 2007.   Burton is the Project Leader for the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories (APSR)Excerpt:

Advances in information and telecommunications technology present opportunities and risks for research and research data.  These advances are propelling us into a new age of research. The question is “Is this a golden age or a dark age for research information?” ...

If all works out nicely, this represents a golden age for researchers: unlimited new online collections of data and research information with powerful tools for aggregating, analysing, and accessing that information.  But what are the risks?

Being able to preserve digital data is a must for a golden age of research information, and a major risk is therefore the rapid obsolescence of digital objects....[Without stewardship and continuity of access] these online research collections and datasets will never last long enough to revolutionise the way we do research.  At worst a new digital dark age will follow where access to the previous generations’ information is severely compromised....

The golden age is predicated on openness, a willingness to grant access to scholarly outputs and research data....

Openness of research data has social barriers in some disciplines where primacy and sole use of data is important to academic reputation.  Other disciplines have adopted at a community level a greater expectation of immediate open access to research data.

Advances in ICT technology are enabling the prospect of a golden age of research information. However the barbarians are massing outside the empire, and unless we invest to secure digital longevity, persistent identification, interoperability, richness of data, and open access, a regression into a digital dark age is also possible.